I, Emma Freke

I, Emma Freke

4.5 11
by Elizabeth Atkinson

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Life wasn't always like this. In fact, when I was younger and shorter and dumber I usually had one or two friends to play with at recess. My grades were good, but nothing special. Then my height and brains took off one summer as if someone watered me with too much fertilizer. Even my dull hair turned redder. To make matters worse?to make matters impossibly


Life wasn't always like this. In fact, when I was younger and shorter and dumber I usually had one or two friends to play with at recess. My grades were good, but nothing special. Then my height and brains took off one summer as if someone watered me with too much fertilizer. Even my dull hair turned redder. To make matters worse?to make matters impossibly worse?my name is Emma Freke. Like, if you say it slowly, Am a Freak.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Having a weird name isn't the only reason 12-year-old Emma Freke ("Like, if you say it slowly, Am a Freak") feels like an outcast. She's taller and more intellectually advanced than her peers; she knows little of her father except his name; and she's nothing like her flighty single mother. When Emma has the opportunity to meet the "Freke" side of her family at a reunion, she jumps at the chance, thinking she will finally meet people to whom she can relate. But fitting in with the Frekes--a motley crew of Midwesterners dedicated to keeping the memory of a frontier ancestor alive--has its drawbacks. Atkinson (From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between) has written a lively novel with an empathetic, well-drawn heroine, but other aspects of the story--like Emma being allowed to travel from Massachusetts to Wisconsin on her own to meet a group of people she doesn't know--strain belief. Characterizations of Emma's eccentric relatives (on both sides of her family) feel as forced as her "just be yourself" realization does preordained. Ages 9–13. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Jody Little
Twelve-year old Emma is five foot ten inches tall with flaming red hair, and is the smartest girl in her class. She lives with her mother, Donatella, who seems far more interested in her boyfriends than she does in Emma, and she helps run their family business, a bead shop. Emma's only friend is Penelope, an adopted girl from Liberia who lives nearby with her two mothers. Emma wonders why she feels like such an outcast. It does not help that her name is Emma Freke, pronounced "Am a Freak." When Emma receives an invitation to a three-day family reunion camping trip with her father's side of the family, Penelope and Donatella urge her to go. Worried that she does not even know her father and that she will not belong in the Freke family either, Emma reluctantly goes. To her surprise, she is greeted warmly by all the aunts and uncles at the camp. Right away, Emma loves all the structure and activities of the reunion. She befriends three cousins her age, Abby, Morgen, and Megan, but she is most intrigued by cousin Fred, who strangely never seems to follow the rules or attend any of the daily activities. As the reunion continues, Emma begins to feel uncomfortable. She realizes that even though the Frekes are super friendly and welcoming, she misses making her own choices. She even begins to realize that she enjoys the freedom of her life with Donatella. Maybe, she realizes, it is okay to be "Am a Freak." Filled with quirky characters and snappy dialogue, this contemporary fiction novel embraces uniqueness and is a highly enjoyable read. Reviewer: Jody Little
School Library Journal
Gr 5�7—Twelve-year-old Emma Freke is the target of teasing for more than just her name in this novel by Elizabeth Atkinson (Carolrhoda Books, 2010). She is extraordinarily tall and mature for her age, skinny, and has red hair. Add to all that a shyness that keeps her from making friends, and she becomes an outsider nearly always looking in. When her free-spirit, hands-off mother decides to keep her home under the premise of "home-schooling" her, but fails to go about it the proper way, Emma finds a warm and supportive tutor in her local librarian. Emma is unexpectedly invited to the Freke family reunion in Wisconsin. Never having met her father, she is both excited at the prospect of being around people just like herself and nervous about what she might discover. Ali Ahn effortlessly brings Emma to life and easily shifts vocal perspectives for each fully-voiced character, with some of the most colorful episodes occurring at the reunion. The performance is so convincing that listeners will feel like they are hearing a close friend share their heartbreaking and lonely path from outcast to insider. As Emma discovers her inner strength, the emotional narration reflects her growth and self-acceptance through pitch, pacing, and vocal patterns. Listeners will enjoy this heartfelt, sometimes humorous story.—Stephanie A. Squicciarini, Fairport Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews

With vibrant red hair, an extraordinary intellect and a height of nearly six feet, 12-year-old Emma feels out of sync with peers and life in general. Her unique surname serves to magnify these woes. While Emma acts in a responsible adult manner, internally she is besieged by all the anxieties and insecurities of her age. Atkinson deftly portrays the intense self-consciousness that is an inherentpart of thetransition between childhood and adolescence. Emma's flighty, bohemian mother offers little guidance, and Emma longs for a conventional life. An invitation to her heretofore-unknown father's family reunion seems an opportunity for her to redefine herself. This newfound family, which pronounces their last name Frecky, offers Emma all the orderly ordinariness she has been craving. However, between her blossoming friendship with Fred, the mysterious outcast of the group, and her skirmishes with Aunt Pat, the martinet who demands absolute conformity, Emma emerges with a new appreciation for her unorthodox upbringing. How she reconciles the disparate halves of both her personality and her extended family becomes a poignant journey of self-discovery. (Fiction. 9-13)

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.27(w) x 7.44(h) x 0.60(d)
750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Atkinson was raised in Harvard, Massachusetts. In 1983, she earned a Bachelor of Arts cum laude (with honors in Anthropology) from Hobart & William Smith Colleges. In 1995 Elizabeth completed her Master of Arts degree in Liberal Studies (with a concentration in creative writing) at Dartmouth College.

Throughout the years she has worked as a copy editor, editorial assistant, and the executive director of a pen pal organization for teens, as well as an English Instructor, children's librarian, newspaper columnist, and freelance writer.

In 1991, Elizabeth published Monster Vehicles (Capstone). Many years later, her middle grade novel, From Alice to Zen and Everyone in Between (Carolrhoda), was released in February 2008 and has been included in the Bank Street College of Education's BEST CHILDREN'S BOOKS of 2009 (100th Anniversary Edition). In April of 2009, her young adult nonfiction book, GLEE!: An Easy Guide to Gluten-Free Independence (Clan Thompson LLC) was released, and Atkinson frequently gives gluten-free talks throughout the northeast region. Her next tween novel, I, Emma Freke, is out in Fall 2010. Currently, she is working on a new middle grade book, Dear Gabby, It's Me Ruby.

Ms. Atkinson lives most of the time on the North Shore of Massachusetts with her husband, two children, and chocolate labradoodle . . . but spends many weekends at her cottage in the Maine mountains hiking, reading and, of course, writing.

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I, Emma Freke 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think I can really relate to this book a lot! I'm also freakishly tall and don't play bball, I seem to have suddenly grown up, the only thing is, my mom isn't AS weird as Donatella. A good read for middle schoolers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im a red hed, 2rd shortest in my class and dont have many friends either. But theres one thing im good at doing and thats being me. A weird, crazy pit-bull traped inside and chiwawa, but none of that matters to me, even if im diffrent, even if i screw up on most things. Im my own person and nobody gonna change that. I may be a little bit offbut im gonna break down a wall one day and everybody will see that i can do somthing other than creep you out. So basicly, what all this meant was to be yourself and dont let anybody change that. I belive that we can make a differece. So read this book and you will se what i mean. Just be the most brilliant color in the box. And being you in a world that is constently trying to change you is the greats achevment you will ever achevie. Now get off the couch an break down a wall!
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Seriously, what's a girl to do with herself when she's red headed, mega-vertical, almost twelve-years-old, totally lacking in social skills, and has a wacky New Age mother? Not much except sit listening to Ms. Fiddle, a guidance counselor, who worked on her "socialization skills," skills she wasn't interested in acquiring any time soon. She did have one friend, Penelope who was a couple of years younger and in the fourth grade, but no problem because they were BBFs and that was one fact she knew. She also knew that her mother, Donatella, in one of her not-so-lucid moments, decided to name her Emma when she was born. Emma Freake. She always explained it away by saying, "My mother forgot to say it out loud when I was born." Can you just imagine taking an oath with that name? "I, Am A Freak, do solemnly swear . . . " Penelope had two Gray Moms who always doted on her, but Donatella more or less let Emma do what she felt like doing. Penelope's moms practically had her whole life planned out for her. Emma wistfully thought, when asked what she had wished for on her birthday, "I wished for a normal mother who acted like one. I wished for a real house. I wished for friends. I wished to be shorter, prettier, funnier . . . all impossible wishes." Emma shared her house with Donatella, her grandfather, Nonno, and his gassy bulldog, Eggplant Parmigiana. They lived in cramped quarters over "Freke Beads & More." At least she liked working in the store, because "No matter what they looked like, beads knew how to socialize perfectly." Donatella had promised a wonderful gift, the best gift she'd ever received, when she handed her "How to Learn at Home the Cosmic Way." She was going to be able to be homeschooled, but something was drastically wrong with the picture. Before you know it, Mr. Millfoil, head of the guidance department, and Miss McFight, "Homeport school committee," showed up on their doorstep talking to Donatella. "Emma has been referred to our new partner program for what w like to call, 'special students.'" Excuse me, but wasn't that the "nuthouse for kids?" Penelope had given her a "mojo gold bead" for good luck, but this was crazy. Next thing you know, she received a weird invitation to attend "The Descendants of Boris Horace Freke" family reunion. Who were these Freke's and why did they want her now? Where was that joylah that all kids were supposed to have? Was she really a Freke or was she adopted like Penelope? This is a charming story of Emma Freke a young girl who has no doubt that she really is a freak. Emma experiences mega-angst as she matures, an emotion that few 'tweens and teens escape, but she is totally oblivious to the fact that she is literally becoming a beautiful young woman. Her bubbly elan and quaint personality are hidden, but simply gush through these pages like a mountain stream in spring. I loved not only her vulnerable side when she "burst out crying," her self-doubt when she claims she's the "tallest, palest, saddest girl in all of Homeport," but also her intelligence and very appealing personality. It was disheartening for Emma to hear that, "whether you like it or not, the truth is honey . . . you really are a Freke." Quill says: By the time your 'tween or teen reads this book, they'll probably wish they were a Freke!
grammyc More than 1 year ago
With our increasing awareness of the bullying problem, Elizabeth Atkinson's "I, Emma Freake," fulfills a need. Finding one's identity while trying to be accepted in one's peer group is a daily struggle for our 10-14 year-olds, especially when you are being "mothered" by someone who hasn't a clue. Ms. Atkinson encourages "tweens" to stay true to themselves, and perhaps, be less judgmental. Her earlier work, "From A to Zen, and Everyone in Between" has an equally important message, and I also recommend that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can relate myself to penelope and emma in a way. Very toching book. They should make this a disney movie :)
GlassHalfFull More than 1 year ago
If you know a tween girl this is the book for you! Emma feels so sorry for herself in the beginning, but herr wonderful and funny friend, Penelope, inspires her to take a big risk and discover her inner and outer beauty. Lots of other characters you will want to know more about(Emma's mother is a riot and so is Aunt Pat). Love this book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way to give away the ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like how at the end she realizes she likes her name!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reading the sample. Its kool. I guess.